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Tea Party activists rally at U.S. Capitol

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) speaks to Tea Party activists as they rally on the west side of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 20, 2010. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) speaks to Tea Party activists as they rally on the west side of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 20, 2010. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- An estimated 200 Tea Party supporters rallied in Washington Thursday to urge congressional Republicans to cut federal spending and reduce the deficit.

Protesters at the rally, titled "Continuing Revolution," chanted, "We want less," and some seemed to advocate for a government shutdown if Congress can't agree on cutting spending deeply enough, chanting, "Cut it or shut it," The Hil reported.

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The rally came as White House and congressional negotiators worked toward finding agreement on a bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown when current funding authority expires April 8.

"If it does shut down, just remember: It's the government's fault. It's Congress's fault," Jenny Beth Martin, a rally organizer and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said.

"If [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] wants a fight, let's give it to him," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told protesters.

Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa spoke at the event, along with GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Leaders in the grassroots movement said their message is for both major political parties, Politico reported.

"It's absolutely equally aimed at both parties," Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, who helped organize the protest, told Politico. "It takes responsibility equally for both parties to get this done."

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Meckler reminded House Republicans they should remember, as a political adage says, to dance with the ones who brought them.

"Their responsibility is to lead," he said. "They've been granted a temporary shot at showing they can lead [the] country back to fiscal solvency, and we expect them to behave in a way that people want."

During the midterm elections, which led to the Republicans taking control of the House and cutting into the Democrats' majority in the Senate, GOP candidates ran on a pledge of $100 billion in spending reductions, and their supporters expect them to deliver, expressing little patience with the deliberate pace that comes with lawmaking in Washington, Politico reported.

Freshman Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas said he was "amazed at the snail's pace at which stuff moves in Washington. So I understand their [Tea Party activists] frustration and impatience, but I also see the other side of it -- that you have 100 people in the Senate to deal with and 435 people in the House of Representatives to deal with and at least one person in the White House to deal with."

Some Republicans downplayed the influence such a rally would have on a final budget agreement, Politico said.

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Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette, an appropriations committee member close to Republican House Speaker John Boehner, said, "I don't think it has any effect one way or another."

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